Police find loaded guns at medical marijuana growing operation Arrested men not holders of Health Canada permits Penticton RCMP say they seized loaded guns and excess pot from an Okanagan Falls property being used to grow medical marijuana. The two men arrested at the scene Monday appeared to be in control of the growing operation, but did not hold the Health Canada permits for medical marijuana, police say. Cpl. Brad Myhre said the Penticton RCMP Drug Task Force found three permits in the names of three people who were not directly linked to the property and were not present Monday when a search warrant was executed at a residence and large shop on Allendale Lake Road near Okanagan Falls. Myhre said the amount of dried marijuana seized greatly exceeded what the three permit holders were allowed to possess, and also exceeded reasonable amounts intended for personal consumption for medical purposes. Myhre said inside the shop, officers located a sophisticated marijuana growing operation and approximately 200 marijuana plants, many of which were the size of small Christmas trees and heavily laden with marijuana buds. He said officers also located over 30 pounds of drying marijuana bud. Inside the residence, officers say they found a loaded .357 magnum handgun and a loaded .30-30 calibre rifle. The two men arrested, ages 39 and 40, were released on a promise to appear in court in April to face charges of production of a controlled substance, possession for the purposes of trafficking, possession of a restricted weapon and unsafe storage of firearms. RCMP Sgt. Glenn Atkins said there have been other cases involving the alleged misuse of licences for medical marijuana. "It is concerning if the permits are being misused," said Atkins, who is with the Greater Vancouver Drug Section. "If the licences are being misused, that is certainly evidence that is going to be used in court." Health Canada media officer Philippe Laroche said the agency has concerns about criminals misusing permits. He said those with medical licences to produce pot can't grow marijuana as a group. "Health Canada does not issue licences to produce marijuana for medical purposes to groups, organizations or associations of any kind; only individuals can be authorized," he said. The number of people in B.C. with permits to posses medical marijuana has grown steadily from 119 in December 2003 to 1,368 last month. Last month, fire chiefs in B.C. and Ontario complained about the increased risk of fire in growing operations, including those with a medical marijuana licence. Surrey has shut down eight such operations as fire hazards in the past four years, despite federal sanctioning. "According to Health Canada, individuals licensed under the Medical Marijuana Access Regulations [MMAR] are required to observe all other laws, including bylaws such as zoning, fire, and safety regulations," Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis wrote in a report to council several months ago. "Further, Surrey staff learned there is no procedure to alert local governments about the approval of a MMAR license in any particular local government jurisdiction."